Tonga tsunami: Satellite footage shows moment of volcanic shockwave – apocalyptic scenes

Tsunami warnings are in force across the entire Pacific island of Tonga following a devastating volcanic shockwave. Terrifying satellite footage shows the moment the underwater Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted, sparking a tsunami alert. Local residents posted videos of large waves washing ashore in coastal areas as officials urged immediate evacuation.

@US_Stormwatch tweeted footage of the satellite explosion: “Tonga’s Hunga Tonga volcano just had one of the most violent volcano eruptions ever captured on satellite.”

The intense eight-minute eruption was so violent it could be heard as “loud thunder sounds” in Fiji, more than 800km (500 miles) away, according to officials in the capital Suva.

People in New Zealand reported hearing “sonic booms” at the time of the eruption. 

Witnesses in Tonga said ash is falling over the capital, Nuku’alofa.

One Tonga resident Dr Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau tweeted images of ash-covered windows, adding: “Raining ash and tiny pebbles, darkness blanketing the sky.”

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Another person @IliesaWT tweeted: “The island is grey, as ash has covered the whole island.”

Other footage showed the sky “turn pitch-black” as ash fell across the island.

Residents of the Pacific island have been urged to move to higher ground.

Tsunami waves measuring two feet in height were observed by sea-level gauges at the capital of the US territory of American Samoa following volcanic activity in Tonga, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

New Zealand weather forecasting company Weather Watch posted on Twitter: “The energy release is simply astonishing.

“Tonga is around 2,000km away from New Zealand. Reports of people hearing the sonic booms across New Zealand.”

The eruption at the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano on Saturday was the latest in a series of smaller eruptions at the site. 

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano lies about 65km north of the Tongan capital.